For Cox Automotive, the long-touted promise offered by mobility fleet servicing is big enough to support a new brand and the conversion of one of its traditional auction locations — and maybe more.
The company’s Manheim Metro Atlanta site, one of three Manheim auctions in Atlanta, ran its last vehicle auction in October. Then the entire 25-acre space was revamped as the flagship hub for present-day fleet servicing and forward-looking mobility solutions offered through Cox Automotive Mobility Group’s new Pivet brand launching Monday, Jan. 14.
“It’s our commitment to the mobility space — we knew we had to really go in,” said Alex Fraser, general manager of Atlanta market fleet services for Cox Automotive Mobility Group. “In some of our client conversations, the recognition that we have relocated an auction specifically so we could create this development space to learn and grow within the mobility world has really signaled to them how serious we are.”
Cox isn’t revealing how much it is investing in Pivet or the Atlanta site. The new brand will provide services through Manheim, mobile car care company RideKleen — which Cox acquired in October — and other businesses to provide on-site and off-site services, including everything from in-fleeting, de-fleeting, cleaning, detailing, fueling and charging, to maintenance, storage, parking and logistics. In-fleeting typically involves handling state registration, interior cleaning, exterior preparation and other quality control for vehicles coming in to the fleet company. De-fleeting involves making repairs, service, maintenance and inspections, and condition reports as a fleet vehicle is prepared for sale.
Cox is bullish on the mobility business and expects fleet services to become more vital as more high-use commercial fleets are deployed, resulting in significant increases in miles per vehicle and a more frequent need for service and maintenance. When it announced its new Cox Automotive Mobility Group division in August, the company said it expected the division to grow to revenue of $100 million to $150 million in the next few years and then balloon into a $5 billion business in a decade.
Pivet’s flagship location between downtown Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is handling traditional fleet services, including maintenance and repair for existing clients such as Lyft, Hertz, Clutch and Flex Fleet Rental.
The company also plans to launch dedicated innovation labs for autonomous and electric-vehicle technologies there later this year. At the same time, a “consumer mobility lounge,” for Lyft and Uber drivers who are having their cars serviced, is being built where there used to be a large counter for auction clients. That’s set to open this summer.
Ending auctions at the Atlanta site, which has three buildings and 35,000 square feet of space and can hold some 2,000 vehicles, was not due to a lack of business, Fraser said. “It was a profitable, great location,” he said.
And Pivet will expand beyond Atlanta. Cox’s RideKleen unit is in 10 markets, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. In its existing markets, RideKleen services clients Getaround, Zipcar and Enterprise Car Share. Some RideKleen fleets will be equipped to perform light maintenance service such as oil changes.
Pivet is the umbrella that covers both those mobile services as well as Manheim’s fleet service at physical hubs.
And more physical hubs are a certainty, Fraser said. That could involve taking over a physical auction space, as in Atlanta, or acquiring an entirely new, non-auction location. Or, it could make sense to use only part of a current auction facility’s space and keep the traditional lanes rolling, he said.
Fraser declined to say which markets could be next.
In terms of competition for Pivet, Fraser said similar efforts are likely underway elsewhere. Indeed, Manheim’s main competitor, KAR Auction Services, is focused on meeting customers wherever and however they want to do business, company CEO Jim Hallett said last week as KAR promoted Openlane co-founder Peter Kelly to the new position of president.
But even with more competitors, Fraser added, “It is such a significant market that we see coming, that there really is enough pie for everybody.”